‘I could feel them coming’ - The moment cramps brought Loïc Vliegen to a standstill in Liège-Bastogne-Liège 

The local hero had to give up the lead of the race after suffering from an attack of cramps 

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Loïc Vliegen found himself in a dream position during the 2021 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as the local rider led the race around his home region. 

The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider made it into the seven-rider breakaway in the final spring Monument, enjoying a day out around the roads of his hometown Liège. 

Into the final 25km of the race, Vliegen attacked alone as the peloton closed in behind, but the 27-year-old’s solo move was brought to a sudden halt when cramp set into his legs.

Vliegen was brought to a complete standstill, lost his lead and was forced to recover before he could get the legs turning again. 

Speaking after the finish, Vliegen told Belgian newspaper Het Niewsblad (opens in new tab): “It was a very tough race and I had been in the lead almost the entire time, while my form is not really great. However, I wanted to do something today, for my audience. It was a beautiful day for me, with a very good course. Next year I will come here with a different goal. Those cramps? I could feel them coming, yes. But after two minutes they were gone again, after I pushed them a bit. After that I helped Quinten Hermans, after that my day was over. ” 

Vliegen was able to continue rolling and eventually made it to the finish in 92nd place, a respectable 6-17 down on race winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). 

To mark the moment in the historic 259km, Vliegen celebrated with a plate of Belgian fries. 

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Vliegen was the star rider for his team in the Ardennes Classics, making it into the break in all three major races (Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallone and Liège), being the last man to survive from them at both Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.  

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.